In October 2003, Palm Beach County and Scripps Research Institute jointly developed plans for a Biotechnology Research Park to be built on the Mecca Farms site – a 1,919-acre parcel in rural western Palm Beach County bordered by wetlands and conservation areas. In addition, Mecca’s wetlands drain into the Loxahatchee River, a nationally designated Wild and Scenic River and an essential component of the Everglades Ecosystem
In order to develop the area, Palm Beach County and Scripps sought approval of a Clean Water Act Section 404 permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fill wetlands at the Mecca Farms. The Corps issued the permit in 2005 along with an Environmental Assessment (EA), concluding there were no significant environmental impacts associated with filling the wetlands.
It was soon discovered, however, that the Corps’ environmental review – designed to identify any significant impacts a project may have on both the environment and public health – had been limited to only 25 percent of the 1,919 acre Mecca Farms site.
Environmental groups challenged the adequacy of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Environmental Assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In 2005, a District Court held that the Corps’ issuance of the permit had violated both the National Environmental Policy Act and Clean Water Act and ordered preparation of a new environmental review of the entire Mecca Farms site (as required by law) before the project could proceed.
During the ensuing evaluation process, Palm Beach County and Scripps decided to relocate the research park to a new location that minimized environmental impacts and saved money by utilizing existing access roads.
The grand opening of the new facility took place on February 26, 2009, and included a public ceremony including then-Florida Governor Charlie Crist.
Today, the Scripps Florida Research Institute operates a state-of-the-art biomedical research facility focusing on neuroscience, cancer biology, medicinal chemistry, drug discovery, biotechnology, and alternative energy development employing more than 500 staff.
 404 F.Supp.2d 1352. Florida Wildlife Federation v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (2005). Available at:
 “Opening Ceremonies Celebrate New Scripps Florida Biomedical Research Facilities.” The Scripps Research Institute. February 26, 2009. Available at: https://www.scripps.edu/news/press/2009/022609.html